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Overworked Wisconsin staff want wage and hour laws help

A prison for teens is facing a severe and ongoing shortage of employees. The lack of staffing has led to deteriorating conditions for workers. A recent change in Wisconsin law reduced the power of workers' unions to negotiate for better wage and hour laws. 

Reportedly, the facility has 93 positions without workers available to take them. Sixty-seven jobs are unfilled, and 26 employees are unable to work because of leave or injuries. It has been reported that the staffing issue has been long-standing. Many individuals who work at the facility are putting in 16 hour shifts, or 72 hour workweeks. Burnout and employee turnover is high. 

A 2011 law signed by the governor limited the bargaining powers of the unions for most public workers. A worker at the facility thinks it would help the state if the workers could have those bargaining abilities back. Until then, the prison struggles to fill positions and keep individuals, and the strain is increased during holidays or when a worker is injured. 

For employees of the Wisconsin prison, a change in the negotiating privileges could mean better wage and hour laws. When employees are pressured to work longer and longer hours, they suffer. Sometimes an overworked employee may be in greater danger of being harmed by an inmate. The prison is already being sued to improve conditions for the inmates. A worker in similar circumstances who feels that employment conditions have infringed upon his or her legal rights and have resulted in financial losses may benefit by discussing the issues with an experienced employment law attorney.  

Source:, "Lincoln Hills teen prison plagued with staff shortage", Patrick Marley, Nov. 20, 2017

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